Monitoring the Living Shoreline at Cannon's Point Preserve
Authors: Kimberly Fuller, Rachel Fleming, Chelsea Thompson, Lauren Hulslander, Hayley Boone, and John Mahas
For several years, Conservation Biology classes at the College of Coastal Georgia have partnered with the St. Simons Land Trust and Georgia Department of Natural Resources to monitor a living shoreline project at Cannon’s Point Preserve on St. Simons Island, GA. The living shoreline was engineered in 2015 to establish a natural oyster reef and vegetation to combat the erosion that frequently occurs along tidal creeks on the Georgia coast. As a class, we sampled from eight transects that were evenly spaced along the shoreline, perpendicular to the creek. Along each transect, we placed a 0.25-m2 quadrat to cover each of the three intertidal zones (lower, middle, upper). In each quadrat, we measured the densities of various invertebrate and plant species. From the past two years of data, we can already see a positive difference. Our results show that there has been an increase in the densities of eastern oysters (Crassostrea virginica) and smooth cordgrass (Spartina alterniflora). We believe this is a clear indication that the living shoreline project is working. Through the continued monitoring, we can hopefully show others in Georgia and around the world what they can do to protect their shorelines and salt marsh habitat.